The Best Hybrid SUVs of 2023
If you’re looking for better fuel economy and to lessen your impact on the environment, electric cars are great options. Many offer solid electric range, desirable features like all-wheel drive (AWD), and tech that includes Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but what if you need to go off-road? What if you need cargo space and don’t want to stop and charge all the time? It’s possible to have great space and fuel efficiency in one package. The best hybrid SUVs do it all.
When buying a hybrid SUV, it’s important to remember that having great gas mileage is pointless if the vehicle can’t do what you need. Towing, third-row seats, and plentiful standard features are important, as well as the starting price. The good news is that there’s a hybrid SUV for almost any use case, even in the midsize SUV and larger segments, where weight and mass traditionally make it hard to achieve decent fuel economy. More good news? Most new SUVS come with the latest safety features and great tech, such as large touchscreen infotainment systems. In some cases, the hybrid models of popular SUVs perform as well as, if not better than, their gas-powered companions. If you’re looking for great alternatives to the options on this list, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and others all offer SUVs with hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or mild-hybrid powertrains that deliver strong acceleration and great gas mileage.
Honda CR-V Hybrid
Best for: Shoppers who want an outstanding crossover that happens to be a hybrid
Priced from: KSH 3.4M
Honda has been a major player on the hybrid scene since the days of the first Insight and it continues to charge ahead with models like the CR-V Hybrid. Given its affordable price point, smooth power delivery, and ample interior space, some of us point to the CR-V Hybrid as our personal pick amongst the compact SUVs and crossovers on this list.
Available only as an AWD model in trims, this version of the hot-selling CR-V features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that works with an electric generator/starter and propulsion motor, as well as a lithium-ion battery. There is no conventional transmission. Put it all together and you get 40 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. Those are impressive figures for a five-passenger family car, especially when compared to an AWD non-hybrid CR-V that all does quite well with ratings of 27 mpg and 32 mpg, respectively.
Toyota RAV4 Hybrid
Best for: Individuals and empty nesters who don’t need a third-row seat
Priced from: KSH 4.5M
Toyota has been slow to adopt EVs and move toward full electrification, and has instead focused on hybrid and fuel cell technologies. The result of that focus is a group of hybrid vehicles that offer power and smooth operation on top of exceptional fuel economy. The RAV4 Hybrid is a great example of that, delivering up to 41 mpg in the city while providing good power and acceleration. The RAV4 Hybrid is powered by a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors.
The RAV4 Hybrid delivers confident handling and a comfortable ride, but it’s clear Toyota prioritized comfort over performance. With a CVT and standard all-wheel drive, the SUV makes a wonderful all-weather companion, and its generous cargo space makes it an excellent everyday family vehicle.
Ford Escape Hybrid
Best for: Individuals or small families seeking a stylish smaller hybrid SUV
Priced from: KSH 2.2M
The Ford Escape got a full redesign gaining upscale styling, more space, and plenty of new tech. The Escape Hybrid has all of that, with the addition of great fuel economy from a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. The combo creates 200 horsepower and sends it to the front wheels through a continuously variable transmission.
The Escape Hybrid provides solid acceleration, and maintains its pep at highway speeds. Ford’s CVT works well, and it pairs nicely with the engine to deliver smooth power and operation.
Hyundai Tucson Hybrid
Best for: Shoppers who want to get a little bit sporty
Priced from: KSH 4.9M
The Hyundai Tucson is all-new for 2019 with sharp, attractive styling, a solid powertrain, and plenty of great new tech. Power comes from a turbocharged 2.0 liter engine and an electric motor. Combined output measures 226 horsepower. A six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are also standard. Power delivery and refinement are both better than those of the standard Tucson model.
The Tucson Hybrid returns 37 mpg in the city and up to 36 mpg on the highway. The SUV maintains decent handling and composure over broken pavement and during spirited driving, but there’s a lot of daylight between the Tucson Hybrid and true sports SUVs.
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Best for: Active families always on the go
Priced from: KSH 3.4M
When you need more space but don’t want to sacrifice fuel economy, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid is one of the best choices on sale today. It offers excellent ride quality, stout acceleration, an upscale interior, and great gas mileage. The Highlander Hybrid comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine paired with two electric motors that make a combined 243 horsepower and 186 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a continuously variable transmission are also standard.
The three-row SUV delivers a comfortable ride that remains tidy even when road quality is not. There’s plenty of room for the whole family and all of its gear, and the Highlander Hybrid returns up to 35 mpg in the city and on the highway while doing it.
Kia Sorento Hybrid
Best for: Parents who value a good driving experience
Base price: KSH 3.5M
The Kia Sorento is a roomy, comfortable SUV with plenty of tech, and the Sorento Hybrid adds great fuel economy into the bargain. It got a new 10.25-inch touchscreen as standard equipment in 2016, and it retains its fun-to-drive personality. It’s powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. Combined output is 227 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard.
The Sorento Hybrid feels lively and eager, and it delivers good acceleration at highway and in-town speeds. The addition of a “real” six-speed automatic transmission instead of a CVT is a benefit here, as it adds to the engagement and driving excitement. The transmission doesn’t ruin fuel economy, either, as the Sorento Hybrid returns up to 39 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway.
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Best for: Adding even more efficiency to a great package
Priced from: KSH 3.6M
The Santa Fe Hybrid is a step forward from the standard model, as it adds great fuel economy to the SUV’s already winning packaging and design. The Santa Fe Hybrid is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine and an electric motor. The system produces a combined 226 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive are both standard, and they pair nicely with the hybrid powertrain to deliver strong acceleration and great low-end torque. Acceleration is as smooth and refined as it is strong.
The Santa Fe Hybrid can deliver up to 31 mpg on the highway in certain configurations, making it an excellent and efficient road trip vehicle. Additionally, the SUV swaps between gas and hybrid powertrain features effortlessly, and there’s none of the stuttering or hesitation that can sometimes happen during the handoff.
Subaru Crosstrek Hybrid
Best for: Adventure seekers who need a go-anywhere compact hybrid SUV
Priced from: Kshs 2.6M
The Subaru Crosstrek is a comfortable and surprisingly capable subcompact SUV, and with a hybrid powertrain it delivers stellar fuel economy of up to 35 mpg combined. It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a pair of electric motors that make 148 horsepower and 149 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive and a CVT are standard. The Crosstrek Hybrid isn’t the most powerful SUV on the road, but it’s plenty capable and it feels reasonably sporty, especially doing light trail duty.
The Crosstrek’s ride is a little stiff, but it remains confident and stable in the corners. Subaru’s standard all-wheel drive delivers stellar traction and stability in nearly all weather conditions.
Lexus RX 450h
Best for: Luxury shoppers looking to venture into hybrid territory
Price Range: KSH 4.5M
Lexus was an early entrant in the luxury SUV market with the RX, and the hybrid version is more of a good thing. The RX Hybrid gets a 3.5-liter V6 that combines with three electric motors to produce a total of 308 horsepower. Power hits all four wheels through a continuously variable transmission. There’s plenty of grunt, and the RX rarely feels underpowered. That said, it’s far from the quickest SUV, and the engine can make some unrefined noises under heavy throttle.
Buyers wanting a smaller SUV would do well with the Lexus NX, but the RX is a compelling luxury hybrid SUV. There’s a decent cargo area, and it also has many connectivity options. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the RX Hybrid isn’t all that great, at just 29 mpg city.